The seventh round of negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) began on Sunday, February 25 in Mexico City. The agreement, signed in San Antonio in 1992, has been a political football since the 2016 Presidential elections. Now approaching the Mexican presidential election in July and midterm Congressional elections in November, stakes remain high to agree to a modernized deal.
Today, Richard Perez, President and CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, is traveling to Mexico City to speak to over 150 business leaders about the benefits of NAFTA on the Texas economy. This follows on the heels of his participation in a conference of Chamber CEOs from some of the largest cities in Mexico, Canada, and the United States in January during the last round of talks in Montreal.
San Antonio, like many cities across Texas, has benefited greatly from NAFTA. Texas leads the nation in worldwide exports by a wide margin. In 2017, Texas’ exports to other countries totaled $264 billion, including more than $97 billion to Mexico, and $22 billion to Canada. Mexico and Canada are Texas’ most important markets – accounting for 45 percent of the state’s exports in 2017. The top two trading commodities between Canada and Texas are energy, and equipment and machinery.
We believe that the NAFTA negotiations must recognize the interdependence of all three economies, guarantee continued access to the U.S., Mexican and Canadian markets, and be conducted in a manner that avoids any prospect of retaliation against American products.
Given its impact on our local economy, the Chamber has been vocal in our support of a strong, modernized agreement since preparations began for the negotiations in early 2017. In addition to these recent speaking engagements, Richard presented testimony to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee in November and provided comments to the House Subcommittee on Trade as well as the United States Trade Representative in June of 2017.
Trade was also a key issue in our 40th annual SA to DC trip in January, where we took more than 170 business and community leaders to Washington to advocate for the top issues to San Antonio businesses. Additionally, in February, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) traveled to San Antonio to address Chamber members and held a private meeting, which included our Chairman of the Board Shaun Kennedy and our President and CEO Richard Perez along with other local leaders in the trade arena, to discuss the importance of NAFTA.
We will continue to remain active in advocating for a strong trilateral trade agreement until one is reached.